The one in the freezing cold
Our February cleanup fell on Valentine’s Day this weekend and so the theme was “Romancing on the River” although I am sorry to report a lack of romance. Perhaps a cold winter day in waders isn’t the best ice breaker?
For this event we headed to Poulter Park where last year we discovered 200 tyres in the river. Luckily, the story didn’t repeat itself!
After a quick welcome talk from myself in the cold wind, we all headed straight off to get to work and warm up. The wading team divided into two. The first team headed to the river down the path and started to tackle a pile of broken up fridges which had lodged on some leaning willows and brushwood islands.
The other team headed towards Watermead Lane to tackle a similar pile of rubbish which had collected in the river. Fly-tipping had nowhere to hide…
We soon found the traditional coconut – a Valentine’s gift from the Wandle?
Perhaps my personal highlight of the day was a surprise visit from Erica who used to run the Wandle cleanups for many years. She had managed to hop on the train from Norfolk that morning and catch a lift with Jo, our famous former cake baker, who had come all the way from China to see us again!
Given the special date, we were hoping that love would be in the air at some point, and we weren’t disappointed when lunch time arrived! A team of students from the American International University in London had baked a huge range of delicious Valentine’s Day themed cakes and cookies for us, as well as contributions from Jan, Ann, Sally and Jackie! Who needs flowers when you have pink heart cookies and a hot cup of tea?
After lunch we were all pretty cold, but headed back out to the river. Within half an hour, our two wading teams met in the middle and we quickly realised we had covered the whole river through Poulter Park! So given the weather and the blue tinge to people’s lips, we called it a day early and started to pack up.
The rubbish pile was impressively large, particularly as we’d also created a second pile at the top of the park!
So what did we find? 1 mattress wire, 1 golf trophy, 1 woven chair, 1 bicycle, 1 floor fan, 1 wooden pallet, 1 shelving unit, 1 trolley, 1 dustbin lid, 3 coconuts, 4 traffic cones, 5 concrete fencing stands, 5 fridge doors, 8 tyres, lots and lots of wiring and insulation from inside the fridges, bags and bags of other rubbish.
Huge thanks to Thames Water for funding the event, everyone who helped unpack and pack up the van during the event, Mitcham & Carshalton Rugby Club for use of the facilities, Ann, Jackie, Sally and the students for catering for our volunteers, Wally & Chris for supervising with me, Rosie for supervising the Event Tent and the Waste Management Team at Sutton Council for organising collection of all the rubbish the next day.
Thank you to all our volunteers for coming: Aaron, Abi, Ahmed, Alassimo, Alex C, Amir, Andy, Ann, Aubrey, Barry, Behnaz, Blagovesta, Brian, Charin, Chris E, Chris S, Dan, Dave, David, Derek, Ed B, Eden, Emma, Gabrila, Gillian, Guy, Helen, Hiriah, Ian, Ida, J, Jan , Jane, Jason, Joe, Kaitlynn, Lisa, Manuel, Marina, Marta, Nikola, Per, Phil L, Phil R, Piper, Rachele, Rafael, Rob W, Robert M, Robert T, Rose, Rositsa, Rox, Sally, Samantha, Seamus, Thea, Theo, Tim, Vittorio, Wally, Wayne and Yoanna
So what did I learn from this month’s cleanup? That wading the Wandle isn’t the most popular Valentine’s Day date.